Obeying The Holy Spirit
Updated: Nov 23, 2019
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.~ Jesus
Have you ever had the feeling that God wanted you to say something to someone or to do a specific task? Maybe someone has been heavy on your heart and you keep telling yourself that you'll give them a call or pay them a visit. Or how about those early morning wake-ups that are by no means an accident and you know God is pulling you to Himself to spend some quiet time? Or it could be that urgency, an inner alert that goes off leading you to intercede on behalf of someone. Then there are those awkward times when you're in the grocery store and there may be a prick in your heart to say something to encourage the lady ahead of you in line. Perhaps God gives you an unction to bless someone with something that's tangible. It could be a book, a text, an encouraging email or sending a card.
Whether in word or deed these promptings of the Holy Spirit definitely require sacrifice, faith, and an intentional effort and commitment to obey. Not always easy when God places something on your heart to do that is out of your comfort zone or you're reluctant for one reason or another. It could be fear, feelings of inadequacy or concern of how people may respond. The only way that we can have an overwhelming impact on the lives of others is to develop a readiness to obey. How do we cultivate this readiness? By being doers not just hearers only. Not an easy task but love for God and love for people will quicken our obedience.
Here's an illustration to drive home this point. And if you’re even a little bit like me the conversation in your head might go something like this; First off, God gives you a nudge to give a specific person a phone call. You think to yourself, “Well it’s too early, I’ll give her a call later.” Then you go along with the business of your day and then here it comes again, another nudge, an added but more firm friendly reminder for you to reach out to this person. You might think to yourself, “God is that You?" "Maybe it’s just me. Besides, I don’t know what to say and she's probably busy anyway and I'm really not a phone person.” You may pick up a book, run an errand, do some gardening, or even hope that this reminder would stop coming to your remembrance. Then there it goes again but this time it’s a pressing NUDGE! And when you get that unctuous NUDGE you’re like “Okay God, I’ll do it.” “I’ll do it NOW." I’m sure we’ve all had those times when Father just wouldn't leave us alone until we did what He said and here lately I’ve been stretched in this area.
Isaiah 50:4-5 is one of my life scriptures. You know one of those scriptures that pops out at you and seems to be tailor-made for your specific need, touches the depths of your heart, a promise or even an area where spiritual growth is stagnant? This Scripture in Isaiah has been given to me as a yearning and earnest desire of my heart from our Father in heaven, it reads, “The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He awakens me and opens my understanding to His will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.” Since God planted this desire in my heart I’ve been pretty much camped in it and consistently praying this scripture almost every morning for the past couple of months. I’ve made it personal as I pray, Sovereign Lord give me Your words of wisdom so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning awaken me and open my understanding to Your word and to Your will. Sovereign Lord speak to me, give me ears to listen, and a heart to obey.
Let me tell you and I know this can sound cliche but as sure as it is cliche is as sure as it is true. Be careful what you pray for. We have a prayer-answering God and He answers His way! This life-changing prayer has opened many opportunities for me to step out into unfamiliar territory. “Out” is not a comfortable place for me. It’s not my natural propensity. Which is why I know God has given me this particular scripture, this prayer, in this season to supernaturally empower me to do what He has called me to do. It is He who has given me this burden that won’t go away. This call to turn my prayers into action. This compelling move on my heart to have a word in season for those who are hurting. This stretching is necessary for my spiritual maturity and for me to be effectively, powerfully and perfectly used in my Father’s hand to affect my world for Him.
Since praying this prayer, I have been strategically placed in situations for God’s plan to
unfold for me to offer comfort, help to strengthen and encourage others. It’s been a whirlwind and as unpredictable as Chicago weather but God has blessed tremendously. One thing I know for sure is that God’s grace is sufficient. If we just wholeheartedly trust Him, obey and most notably for me; not overthink, it will all work for the good on both ends of the blessing, for you and for the ones your life touches.
It’s significantly important to realize that sometimes doing the thing God has for you to do could be the farthest thing from your mind. This is why it's so important to seek to have the mind of Christ and a surrendered will. Obeying God’s leading is a response of a surrendered life and is close to the heart of Jesus. Jesus came down from heaven not to do His own will but the will of Him who sent Him. Jesus didn’t speak on His own authority but His Father’s who sent Him and commanded Him what to say and how to say it. (John 13:49) Jesus proclaimed, “I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. For I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:28b-29) One thought I want to zoom in on is that Jesus always did what pleased the Father. I can say “Ouch” right here. Just ponder for a moment always. The Greek translation in this text is “pantote” meaning “every”, “when that is at all times” and this one really gripped my heart, “evermore”. Wow, think about it, continually, unceasingly and eternally setting your heart to please the Father. This really brought things into perspective for me. There is no room for self. We can't live by faith if we don't die to self. To walk in obedience requires the abandonment of our will and total submission to God's will and call even when we don't know the details or things don't make any sense.
There are going to be times when God leads us to do something and it won't make sense to us. We try to figure it out, talk ourselves out of it and we even doubt because it's not sensible to us. The “dots” are not connecting and we can’t see God’s hand in it. In these times we must remind ourselves that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor our ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth so is God’s ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We can’t depend on our limited understanding or be moved by our feelings on a matter. When we lean on our own understanding it tends to make DOUBT instead of make BELIEF. Instead, walk by faith, walk in the Word and go forth with the unction and power of the Holy Spirit.
Another thing that I’ve come to realize is that when stepping out in obedience as it relates to others is that it’s not always going to “feel” good. When I set my heart to pray this poignant prayer, I never considered that sometimes to uplift someone you have to tell the truth in love. And as we well know, the truth can hurt. But the same truth that hurts also heals, sets free, and strengthens, all in God’s timing and in HIS way. I know from experience that it's difficult not to fall prey to doubt, remorse and regret when you don't get the stamp of approval, the assurance and "knowing" that you did the right thing. You may even feel rejected or even begin to think you’ve miss- stepped when trying to help someone. It's a very thin line but pray for discernment and ask God to reveal His will through prayer and study of His Word. God knows your heart and He is perfecting His work in you as well as the person He's called you to. The important thing to remember is that the seed was planted, someone else may water it, but it is and always will be God who cultivates the soil of hearts and gets the increase.
God shares with us His plan of increase by revealing His heart to us for others. Recently God gave me a specific direction to bless a lady who works at a local shopping center. I was there to return some items at the customer service desk. I checked out of the line and as I was walking to my car, I got that oh so familiar nudge. God was speaking to my heart concerning this lady and He gave me a specific instruction but I kept walking thinking maybe it was just me again. I then began to come up with excuse after excuse. I eventually got to my car, put my bags in the trunk and went to turn the ignition and there was that nudge again. So, what did I do? I drove off. I know it’s a shame but you know Father didn’t leave me alone. He wasn't letting me get away. I was just about halfway home when I got a very persuasive NUDGE authenticating and confirming that it was God and I’m like okay God. I don’t understand but I’m going to obey. I immediately turned my car around and drove back to the store, went to the customer service desk to do and say what I believed God instructed me. ( I also want to point out that the lady at the customer service desk was very firm, strict, and seemed to be having a not taking any crap from anybody kind of day.) Kind of intimidating to say the least but when I approached her and said what was pressed upon my heart to say and blessed her with an act of kindness she reached over the counter hugged me, and was brought to tears and implied that this was just what she needed at this particular pin-pointed time etched out by God Himself. I walked away rejoicing and thanking God for His leading and confirmation. It all made sense now! I thanked Him for His persistent prodding and for giving me instructions and a heart to eventually obey. God had His way with me and with the woman at the customer service desk.
It won't always turn out this way and you won't always have those warm and fuzzy feelings. You may not get that stamp of approval but God will still bless and He will still get the glory. It is God who moves in hearts by HIS boundless power. In the meantime, I'm learning to not overthink or over-analyze, but to trust God and His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, and to be led by His Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:14) The flesh profits nothing, and we labor in vain without the leading and endowment of the Holy Spirit.
Ultimately, our role in the matter is to pray and obey. God’s role is to reign and for HIM to perfect people in every good work to do His will, working in them that which is well-pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ and for His glory.
When we step out in faith sometimes the road will get bumpy but God promises to smooth it out. The path may seem crooked at times but God causes them to be straight. God has so graciously lavished us with spiritual gifts for us to give away to others. Freely we have received let us freely give. This is the heart of Jesus. Pleasing Father was His pleasure and priority. It didn’t matter what people thought of Him or how He was received. His heart’s cry was, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”Father glorify your name." (John 12:28)
Like Jesus may God’s glory be our chief aim. His will be our greatest desire. His heart, His kingdom, and His righteousness be our deepest search. His Word is our life, light, and compass. May we be so engulfed by His love that it spills over into the lives of others.
Finally, may we all know the hope of God’s calling on our lives and may our gracious and sovereign Father give us boldness to walk in it unmoved by the opinions of others or our inadequacies.
When God shatters our comfort, we are in the best place to meet Him and serve others with the guidance, wisdom, power, and love that He provides impacting lives now and forever, and producing good fruit for His kingdom.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-7
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
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